Walt Rostow’s Stages of Growth Model


 All societies can be identified within 5 stages:

1) Traditional society:

Little understanding of the external world. Productivity can certainly rise but little innovation. Population varies depending on political/social turbulence, war, plague, drought etc. High proportion of resources devoted to agriculture. Power mostly fell to those who controlled the land. E.g. medieval Europe, the dynasties ofChina. Share a ceiling on the productivity level of their economic techniques.

2) Pre-conditions for take-off:

17th/early 18th Century Europe.Britain first to develop such conditions. Mostly witnessed through external intrusion into traditional societies. Economic progress becomes viewed as both possible and desirable. Crucially, the state begins to develop alongside a rejection of the traditional power structures.

3) The Take Off:

Resistances to growth are overcome. Economic growth dominates. ForBritainand those similar to it, this was spurred by technological innovation (industry & agriculture) and the emergence of a political group who would take economic growth seriously. Savings/investment rates increase, as does the range of new industries. New class of entrepreneurs emerges. Agriculture commercialises as farmers becoming willing to accept changes to their ways of life. India/China – 1950s/1960s,England1783-1800, France/USA – 1840-1860.

4) Drive to Maturity:

10-20% national income now invested. The economy finds its place within the international economy. Approximately 60yrs after take-off begins, maturity is achieved. Symbolised by the move beyond the industries which initially drove the take-off to display economic activity in most, if not all of the economic activities that modern technology can facilitate. The ability to produce anything it chooses to.

5) Age of High Mass-Consumption:

Large numbers move beyond income levels that cover food, shelter and clothing and the workforce changes to increase urban populations substantially as well as the number working in skilled and professional sectors. Economic growth becomes less significant, e.g. creation of welfare state representing focus on security and social welfare. The automobile crucial.